Are The National Parks in Tennessee Worth Visiting?

The national parks in Tennessee provide an excellent opportunity to experience the Volunteer State. They showcase the state’s diverse natural beauty and recreational opportunities.

Whether you enjoy hiking, fishing, or simply admiring the breathtaking scenery, the national parks in Tennessee offer something for everyone. If you’re planning a trip to the South and want to spend time in nature, keep reading.

Today, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the national parks in Tennessee. Let’s get started!

What are national parks?

National parks are protected lands designated and managed by the National Park Service (NPS). The areas are protected for their natural and cultural resources and for the enjoyment of the public. These parks provide recreational opportunities such as hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, and more.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that the country has only 63 national parks. However, there are actually more than 400 national parks with different designations.

Of these more than 400 parks, 63 are designated as national parks. Nevertheless, national parks are home to some of the best-known and most popular natural landmarks in the United States.

How many national parks are there in Tennessee?

Tennessee has one national park, but 13 national park units that receive millions of visitors annually.

Most guests visit Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the most visited park in the country.

But the dozen other national parks are also filled with natural beauty and rich history. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit one of these incredible places.

When is the best time to visit Tennessee?

Tennessee is a great state to visit year-round. When you should travel depends largely on your personal preferences and travel plans. Each season has unique advantages and disadvantages that you need to consider.

If you visit in the spring, you can experience wildflowers blooming in typically mild weather. However, some springs are cooler and wetter than others. This can make it difficult if you want to spend time outdoors.

Summer is usually drier and offers plenty of daylight, but it is also the peak season for tourists.

One of the best times to visit Tennessee is in the fall, when the leaves are changing color. This is when there is less rain and cooler temperatures. It’s the perfect opportunity to take a hike or spend time in nature.

In addition, a drive through the countryside at this time of year can be a magical experience with beautiful landscapes and gorgeous colors.

Winter in the Volunteer State can be unpredictable. Most of the state usually gets very little snow, but the eastern part can get over 60 inches of snow each season. However, if you want to get out and enjoy the winter, you have plenty of opportunities to do so.

If we had to choose a season, we would lean toward fall. There’s something very special about seeing the landscapes change with the seasons and their colors. If you plan it right, you can experience some of the most popular places when the kids go back to school and the crowds are contained.

About Tennessee National Parks

Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the only designated national park in Tennessee.

Yet you can learn so much about this incredible national park. Here’s why you should consider visiting.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located in the southern Appalachian Mountains on the Tennessee-North Carolina border. It was established in 1934 and is the most visited national park in the United States.

The park encompasses more than 500,000 acres of land and features diverse landscapes, including rolling hills, waterfalls, and towering mountains. It is also a hiker’s dream, offering more than 800 miles of hiking trails.

The park is widely known for its biodiversity, as it is home to more than 19,000 species of plants and animals. Visitors can see wildlife such as black bears, moose, and many species of birds. In spring, you can also experience colorful wildflowers.

The park also houses historic structures, including log cabins and grist mills, which illustrate the cultural heritage of the region’s early settlers.

Whether you want to immerse yourself in nature or learn about the history and culture of the region, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a must-visit destination.

Please note: Are you ready to visit the Great Smoky Mountains? Here’s how to plan an RV trip to the Smoky Mountains!

Discover other national parks in Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountain National Park may get all the attention, but there are other national parks in Tennessee to explore.

Let’s take a look at the other national parks you should visit in the Volunteer State.

Appalachian Trail National Scenic Trail

Approximately 70 of the 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail run through the eastern part of the state.

If you were to hike every one of those miles, you would pass through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee. Here you’ll have views of rolling hills, scenic vistas and dense forests.

Don’t take this trail lightly, however. It is known for challenging terrain, steep climbs and dangerous rocky sections. Even the most experienced hikers will find the trail challenging and a good workout.

Fortunately, you don’t have to hike the entire 70 miles to enjoy the beauty of the trail. The trail passes through several historic towns, including Hot Springs and Erwin, making it easy to get in and out.

In addition, there are many options for an out-and-back hike, depending on the length or terrain you prefer.

View of an overlook on the Appalachian Trail National Scenic Trail in Tennessee.

Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area

The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is a protected natural area located between Tennessee and Kentucky.

It was established in 1974 and encompasses over 125,000 acres of land, including portions of the Cumberland Plateau and the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River.

The park features diverse landscapes, including rolling hills, sandstone cliffs, and deep canyons, and offers numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation. Visitors can hike, camp, fish, raft, and take scenic drives through the park’s stunning landscapes.

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park is a national park located in Georgia and Tennessee.

It was established in 1890 to commemorate the Civil War battles of Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge.

Visitors to the park can enjoy guided tours, hiking trails, monuments and historical exhibits. History buffs can tour the park, see the preserved battlefields and explore the surrounding area to learn more about the Civil War.

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park is a U.S. national historical park located in Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee.

It was established in 1940 and preserves historic Cumberland Gap, a natural breakthrough in the Appalachian Mountains. It served as an important passage for early American pioneers on their way west.

The park offers hiking trails, historical exhibits, and overlooks. It offers visitors the opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the area and learn about the cultural and historical significance of the Cumberland Gap.

View of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park in Tennessee.

Fort Donelson National Battlefield

Fort Donelson National Battlefield, one of Tennessee’s national parks, is located near Dover, Tennessee, and commemorates the Battle of Fort Donelson in 1862.

The fort was the site of one of the first major Union victories of the Civil War, which eventually led to Union control of the Cumberland River and the capture of Nashville, Tennessee.

Today, the park is home to several historic sites, including Fort Donelson National Cemetery, the Dover Hotel Museum, and the Fort Donelson Visitors Center.

These sites provide visitors with an understanding of the historical and cultural significance of the battle and its impact on the region.

Visitors can also tour the park and walk the grounds, where they can see the remains of fortifications and learn more about what happened during the Battle of Fort Donelson. If you enjoy learning about history or the Civil War, don’t miss this national park.

Shiloh National Military Park

Shiloh National Military Park is located in Shiloh, Tennessee, and Corinth, Missouri. The park was established in 1894, but did not become a national military park unit until 1933.

The purpose of this NPS unit is to protect the land and educate visitors about the two-day battle at Shiloh during the Civil War. They fought for control of the railroad junction at Corinth, which played a key role in the Civil War.

When you visit Shiloh National Military Park, explore the exhibits, watch the films, and take a self-guided car tour. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about this important historical site.

You can visit sites such as Shiloh National Cemetery, Shiloh Indian Mounds Sites, and the death site of General Johnston.

Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail

The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail runs 330 miles through four states.

The route marks the path traveled by the patriot militia in the 1780 Kings Mountain campaign. You can experience the trail via the state highway system or on foot along the 87 miles of trails.

Each September and October, the area hosts festivals, shows and demonstrations where guests can learn about life in the late 17th century.

These events can help you learn about and understand the complex lives of men and women during this time. You may gain a new understanding of the many obstacles they faced.

Remember: Tennessee has quite a few campgrounds and RV parks, but these are the top rated RV parks in the Volunteer State!

Stones River National Battlefield

The last of the national parks in Tennessee is Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, about 28 miles southeast of Nashville.

The 570-acre park is located on the Stones River and was the site of a battle during the American Civil War on December 31, 1862. The battle lasted three days and resulted in a decisive Union victory.

Visitors to the park can pay their last respects to the fallen at the cemetery there. It contains 6,100 graves, of which 2,562 are unidentified.

In addition, the park offers interpretive programs and outdoor activities. Cyclists, walkers and joggers enjoy the paved trails. And the landscape is perfect for photo and video productions.

A cannon at Stones River National Battlefield in a national park in Tennessee.

Experience the National Parks in the Volunteer State

The national parks in the Volunteer State are the perfect opportunity to get outside, learn about nature and discover the history you learned in school.

Experiencing these sights in person can give you a new appreciation for this beautiful state and its rich history. If your travel plans take you through this part of the country, take the time to explore the national parks in Tennessee.

Which one piqued your interest?

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